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PHOENIX - The former head of the Fiesta Bowl pleaded guilty to conspiracy in federal court Tuesday.

John Junker, who served as the Fiesta Bowl's executive director from 1990 to 2011, admitted that he conspired with others to solicit political campaign contributions from Fiesta Bowl employees and to later reimburse those employees in the guise of employee bonuses.

Although he knew what he was doing was illegal, Junker instructed the Fiesta Bowl's Chief Operating Officer, Natalie Wisneski, to use bonuses to reimburse employees for their contributions. Wisneski is also due to enter a guilty plea on Thursday.

Junker admitted to directing reimbursement of about $25,000 in contributions. Tax returns were filed with the IRS for the 2007 and 2008 tax years, which falsely reported that the not-for-profit Fiesta Bowl made no contributions to political campaigns and engaged in no lobbying activities. Junker admitted that he authorized these filings knowing that they contained false statements.

Sentencing is set for May 21, 2012. He is facing a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. As terms of his plea agreement, Junker will not serve more than 2 years.

 


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